DANVERS — It’s hard to tell what was more shocking: the final result — or the final score.
Caitlin McBride scored for Danvers 25 seconds into Tuesday afternoon's contest with arch rival Beverly, and the hosts didn’t stop until the final whistle in a stunning 5-0 victory over the six-time defending Northeastern Conference champions.
McBride wound up with two goals and an assist as the Falcons (4-2) dealt Beverly its first NEC loss in several seasons.
“This was a pretty amazing win. I’m so proud of all my girls,” said Falcons head coach Jill McGinnity. “We hustled all game and outplayed Beverly.
“Getting that first goal so early got everybody excited. We knew we could make a statement in the NEC this year. Who will wind up winning the league is up in the air now, but we want to be right in the mix.
McBride is a star ice hockey player who also plays softball for the Falcons. She has committed to Merrimack for softball.
“This is a hard-working team,” McBride said of her teammates. “Ice and field hockey are both fast paced, but very different games. You don’t have all the whistles in ice hockey. I’m playing to get in shape for the hockey season.”
Beverly head coach Trish Murphy said that the host Falcons took advantage of the contest immediately and that her squad had their heads down after allowing an early goal.
“When you show up not ready to play like we did, you’re not going to win,” said Murphy, her team now 3-1 in NEC play and 3-2 overall. “There’s no question that (first goal) set the tone for the game. Even though we had plenty of game left, we were back on our heels.
“What went wrong today? Everything. We couldn’t get anything going.”
Beverly held the edge in corners, 6-3, but a strong Falcons’ defense prevented the visitors from taking advantage.
The Falcons totally controlled play in the first half and by intermission had a 3-0 lead. McBride set up Lizzie Prentiss at the 10-minute mark to make it 2-0,, and Riley Doyle scored nine minutes later after a great pass from McBride.
“I changed our lines and set up. We’re very young, with eight starters gone from last year’s team, so it was great to see them come together the way they did today,” said McGinnity, who praised the play of midfielder Annie Tarricone. “Our hockey girls know how to pass and move.”
Beverly put pressure on Danvers goalie Julie Webster (4 saves) in the final minutes of the half, butshe made two big kick saves to keep the game scoreless.
McBride made it 4-0 game 16 minutes into the second half, hustling after a ball in front before firing a shot past Beverly goalie Gabby Cerro (4 saves). Just minutes before that, Cerro made the save of the game when McBride was all alone in front and put a hard shot on net.
“McBride is a fantastic player, a great addition to the team,” said McGinnity. “She has a positive attitude and is a hard worker who knows how to pass and move. Having her out there definitely makes our offense better.
The final goal was scored by sophomore defenseman Rhiana Leslie, with Anna O’Neill getting the assist on a corner with less than a minute remaining.
“Rhiana plays her position so well and made a lot of plays. It was great to see her score,” said McGinnity.
“O’Neill is our unsung hero. She creates so many opportunities, crossing it consistently and is always the pass behind the assist. Raquel Leslie also had a solid game on defense. Everybody came to play.”
Murphy said her Panthers will definitely learn something from this setback.
“I hope it opens the girls’ eyes. Any team can beat you if you don’t play well,” she said. “Give Danvers credit; they really wanted it.”